Having been a professional photographer now for over 13 years, I can honestly say, I have seen it all and heard it all for that matter. But still, it's so much fun to do. Today, I thought I would talk about the terms of the industry and common questions. Too often, I am asked by clients or I guess potential clients who will ask me why I charge what I charge or why someone else is less expensive even though they are offering the same thing as we do. This is where I have to stop them and really begin to explain the differences between one photographer and myself and my team.
Are all photographers created equal? Isn't it just having a nice camera that sets you apart from others? And on and on they go. First of all let me say, I love questions. Really do! So don't hesitate with me. Silly ones make me laugh. And I don't think there are any dumb questions. 95% of the time, this is your first wedding.... for me it's my 650th + wedding....
What camera do you shoot with? We all shoot with professional Canon cameras and lenses except for Tiffany who shoots with Nikon. As long as you know what you are doing with it and you can show your work, the brand of the camera is all but irrelivant.
How long have you been doing this? I have been shooting full time since 2003. My first wedding was back in 1989. No one on our team has less than 9 years of professoinal experience.
My wedding is in place A. My reception is 20 miles away and there is a 2 hour gap. How much more do you charge for that? We don't have a travel fee from San Diego to San Luis Obispo to Bakersfield to Temecula. You are paying for our time with you, whether we are shooting or not. If you have a long gap in your day, I suggest you hire us with our full day coverage... that way it will not matter.
When do I get my? Photos from your event are often posted by next day or two unedited. Edited images will then take their place wihtin one to three months normally. This time can vary depending on annual bookings as well as the extent of your wedding and number of photographers hired to cover it. Albums should be requested once the edited images are provided to you either by seeing them on your on line gallery or with the USB drive we provide. Albums can take up to 2 months again depending on the season, but once it is finalized and you okay the final version it takes about 1-2 weeks to get back from the printer/binder of the album.
What is the difference between and assistant and a photographer? We do not use assistants, well we don't use ones that shoot, I should say. Our photographers are all full time and anyone else we bring to help us, if we do at all, are there to help us, not to take photos of the event. If by rare chance you see one of them with a camera, they are likely shooting behind the scenes things for us and you will almost certainly never see these images. We don't use rookies or weekend warriors. If you don't know what this means, just ask me. The key to this is that when you compare us to someone who's boyfriend comes with a camera and you pay to have a second shooter and the primary is constantly showing the other one how to use their camera... you have wasted a lot of money. Our team are all primary photographers. If you need more than one, you are getting nothing but the best. Your event is not a training session.
Do you limit the number of photos we get? No, not really. We do not set a fixed number of images you will get. This is actually against industry standards. But then so is most of what we do because we are not crazy or uptight or that into ourselves. Companies who say you will get 700 shots or 1000 shots are not showing you everything they captured. There are reasons why they do this. Some are justifyable and others are simply not. If I shoot 1500 images at a wedding (common) you will likely end up with about 1200 fully edited images. Where did the other 300 images go? Well, that can be from a misfired or stobbed flash, misfocus, or an embarrasing shot of a bridesmaid who had a dress malfuntion. Okay, true, we would likely include that last one but if we feel it has no reason to be given we pull it out. When we can shoot 10 frames in one second, you often only really need 1 or 2 of them. If you want them all, let us know and we will give them all. Just be ready to spend hours looking at them, which is why it took us at least an hour to edit for every hour we shoot or more. The other reason photographers limit it to 700 images. Many of them do no edit their own work. The sub it out to outside companies to color corect ( some call this editing) and if they send more than 700 photos their fees goes way up, so they cut it down to keep costs down.
Do you charge us to get our photos from you? No, we do not hold your digital negatives hostage. You paid us to shoot your event. We give you the files. We do keep the copyrights to the images but we release the usage to you to print as you choose. Yes, you can use us to print your images. Yes, we charge more than Walgreens. But our quality prints, far exceed what they produce and it's a timely process to print images so really it is mostly to cover the time it takes to get them prepped and ready to print. We absolutely charge far far less than almost any other photographer we have ever seen. We had a client once who was hesitant to use us because she feared what happened to her sister and her photographer who paid $5000 for two photographers, one was an assitant, AKA boyfriend of the primary, who only gave the couple an on line gallery and in order to get any actual printed photos they had to pay that photographer to get them. An 8x10 was $75. A 16x20 was $200. They were never given their actual edited files to print and or view on their own. Please do not work with a photographer who does this. If you do, you simply have money to burn. Again, we always give you your files. If you want the RAW uneditied images just get us a hard drive to save them to and we will give them to you. You can't do anyting wth them unless you know LR or PS but if you want them none the less, we will give them! Oh, and at no extra charge!!!
Wedding albums are all the same. Why do you charge $1000 for an album when the other company only charges $300? No, no, no! Albums are no where near the same. Magazine albums should not run more than about $300. Layflat albums should not cost much more than $400. Coffee table albums should be around $500. Flush mount albums can cost from $700-$1500 depening on the size and who is making them and what kind of pages they are made of, thick, thin and what kind of quality paper is used for the prints. We have seen some photographers charge as much as $3000 for flush mount albums. I don't think I could sleep at night if I did that. All but flush mount albums use templates to make your album. Most of them look the same in their design. They can take as liitle as 5 minutes to design. Flush mount albums are done by hand with Photoshop and other graphic design applicaitons. They often take as long as 5 hours or more to make and cost hundreds of dollars just for the prints that make them up and still that doesn't inlude the binding or album making process. If you think a Toyota Corola is the same as a BMW M5 then make the album yourself on line. If you want something you think might be shown at the Getty Museum then get a flush mount album. I will at some point come back and add more photos for you to see.
Below: Flush Mount Album. 10x10 opening to a 10x20 page. Jen and Mike at the Bonavanture Hotel in downtown LA. August 2015. Go to our Album tab to see tons more.
We love your work but we have decided to use our cousin who owns a camera instead. If they don't turn out great can you fix them? No, we can't and no we won't even try. We used to, but we really prefer to edit our own work. If you want to save $1000 don't hire the live band. Please don't use your friend or uncle or anyone else you think can pull this off. Would you ask you mom to make a cake for you to serve 200 guests? Probably not. There are so many things again I have seen in this regard, just ask me and I will tell you endless and very sad stories.
DSLR Camera - Digital Single Lens Reflex - A camera that can use interchangable lenses allowing the photographer to adjust how close or wide a subject is. Better lenses allow more light in and give that blurry background you don't get with a point and shoot or your phone.
A single lens we carry with us is worth over $2000. We often carry several lenses with us at all times.
Edited Photos - This can be a real varied term by photographers. Some say they edit their photos and all they do is color balance them. Others use applications like Light Room and simply put the same preset filter to all the images. We do a mix of black and white, spot color, sepia or other color variants. In general, we look at each photo as a stand alone story. For me, each image should be treated this way. Out of 1000 images captured you may only end up printing 20-50. Those should hang on your wall proudly for your life and that single image should elicit an emotion from your wedding or event day. They should not all look the same!
Digital Files/Negatives/USB Drive/Digital Download - The files captured by the camera are in RAW format. You can't see them. In most cases you can't do anything with them. That's why you use us! A RAW image is edited to a form you can see called a JPEG or .jpg. This is in a form a computer can use whether it is a web image (small in size but fast to load on your monitor) or a full resolution file (very large but used to create actual prints and wedding albums). We always provide you with full resolution images. We don't watermark them (LAdigitalPhoto all over your pics...no!) You can print them yourselves or use our much higher quality prints that you can't get at you local print shop or on your home computer, but we don't stop you. Some photographers only make an on line gallery and you have to keep paying for each and every image from them and they don't event give you the file that creates it. So before you think you have a better offer you may want to check! We use USB thumbdrives to get you your files or if you are in a real hurry we can have you download them from our servers or drop box if you have an account that can support 16gig if data or more. These files are your negatives for lack of a better word. In the old days of film, pro photographers would never give their negatives. We don't put that restriction on you! Never will we keep your pics hostage. They are yours.
Professional Photographer - Anyone who is paid money is a professoinal photographer. Experience, knowledge and the ability to get the shot is what makes a huge difference!
Weekend Warrior - A professional photographer who has a full time job and only shoots on the weekend and often only edits on the weekends if he is not shooting. Not always a bad thing but if you want full time attention, hire a full time photographer. When you hear about waiting 6-8 months for your photos.... this is what you hired!